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  • Writer's pictureJohanna White

Branding? I thought I just needed a logo...

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Understanding the difference between a logo and branding, and what it can do for your business!

Logo Vs. Branding

Everyone knows what a logo is. It’s that shape companies use to represent their company; like Nike’s swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches (M) or Apple's iconic bitten fruit. But what’s branding exactly? Branding is a more holistic perspective of how your customers experience your company. While a logo is only a small simple mark, a brand includes every single touch-point your customers have with your company.

Let’s use Apple as an example and consider the differences between a logo and a brand.

Apple's logo is it's namesake. It’s a clean, crisp brandmark that has evolved over the years. It’s very nice, but it’s just a mark – a simple shape. And let's face it, not even a very inspirational shape at that. Apple with a bite out of it? Not something many of us would have chosen to represent one of the largest technology based companies we have today.

Apple's branding on the other hand, includes its sleek product design, minimalist packaging design, print & web ad messaging, store design, product placement on tv and in movies, billboards, sponsorships, in-store graphics, incredible close up product photography, the music in its videos, the design of its website, technology, and on and on and on… It’s every touch point you have with Apple.

The Apple brand pulls you in. If their products could talk, they’d whisper "buy me". Every part of the Apple brand works seamlessly together - their products, packaging, and even their retail stores. There is a sense of simplicity and luxury that comes across whether you’re lifting the lid of a Macbook, opening a new iPhone package, or stepping in to buy a something from one of the Apple stores. When you walk out with that new macbook pro, you feel like you just became a more creative version of yourself.

So, why does it matter? Why should I care if my designer does branding and not just logo design?

Here’s why: your customers don’t experience your company in the form of a logo floating to them in a white Matrix-like void. They experience your brand through your website, or your service vehicle wraps, your product packaging or your sign out front. Your brand message tells them clearly what problem you are going to solve for them, and your brand visuals help communicate that message in the few quick seconds that you have their attention. It’s important to understand that your logomark is just one small part of the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, this is how many business owners think a good logo design works:

Step 1. A potential customer sees a logo.

Step 2. If the logo is ‘good’, they have an emotional and intellectual reaction. They instantly know what the company sells, and they know it’s awesome!

Step 3. They decide to purchase the product or service... right?


So, if the logo itself doesn’t trigger a positive emotional reaction, why the heck do I get so excited when I see the Apple logo?

Here’s how it really works:

Step 1. A potential customer sees a logo.

Step 2. If the logo is familiar to them (such as Apple's brandmark), they will instantly remember all the experiences they’ve had with the brand – the commercials, their experience owning Apple products, the packaging, the way your friends talk about the brand, seeing creative professionals using Apple computers, etc.

Step 3. These memories trigger the emotional and intellectual response. Yes! I know this company! I know their products, and they’re COOL!

Step 4. They decide to purchase the latest Apple watch.

As you can see, the logo is only a visual cue to the brain to recall their experiences interacting with the company (also known as the ‘brand’!) The memory of the brand experience is what triggers the emotional reaction!

“Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but why are you telling us all of this?”

I can hear you thinking. I just want to make a clear distinction between ‘logo design’ and ‘branding.’ What Design by Jo does for it’s clients is ‘branding.’ We consider all aspects of what makes up a brand, and integrate that into our design process. So, yes, at the end of the project you WILL have:

• logo • fonts • color scheme • brand guidelines

These are included in the foundational elements you need for your brand. But during the process, you will discover that we begin with the end in mind, and consider all of the places that your logo will need to be used, in order for you to begin building that emotional response from your customers. We will help you recognize those touch points that will have the highest impact & bring you the greatest ROI, so that by the end you will have a well thought-out solution for your company. You will have more than a logo, you will have a brand!

"Branding is knowing the value you add, and being strategic about communicating it in the marketplace through consistent messaging, visuals and professional presence."



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